Letters to the Editor: Missed Opportunities for Math

October 1, 1999

To the editor:

We would like to remind the mathematical community of the existence of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship program. The program awards three-year fellowships to U.S. students intent on full-time graduate study at the institutions of their choice. The fellowships include a $15,000 stipend, tuition coverage, and possible international travel allowances. The deadline for applications is November 4, 1999.

As the chairs of last year's selection panels for mathematics and applied mathematics, we would like to encourage more graduating seniors and beginning graduate students to apply for these awards. Last year, it seemed to us that many excellent mathematics departments were not represented in the applicant pool. In particular, there were comparatively few applicants from programs at most of the large state universities. This is unfortunate both because of the lost opportunity for students at these universities and because the number of fellowships awarded in each scientific discipline depends on the number of applicants in the discipline.

The review panels base their recommendations on intellectual merit and the candidates' potential for research achievement. We would particularly suggest that (i) directors of undergraduate programs actively encourage their best students to apply for these fellowships, (ii) directors of graduate study urge qualified entering graduate students to apply, (iii) advisers for Putnam and SIAM modeling competitions recommend that their team members apply, and (iv) excellent minority and women students be encouraged to apply in larger numbers.

These are very good awards, and it appears to us that the mathematical community has not been taking full advantage of their existence.

---Karen Vogtmann (Cornell University) and Giles Auchmuty (University of Houston).

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